Have you noticed how the day drowns out worries that, at night, run rampant? I’m not a worrier by nature, but lately I don’t feel relief when I stand beside my bed at dusk, getting ready to STOP. I feel edgy. Uncertain. What if my mind starts hopping from bad memory to anxious thought to tense fear? Lately, even my dreams are stressful.
What a way to start a new year.
Am I too late to do something about this?
I read a blog post suggesting that the key to embracing God’s peace is knowing how near He is. The blog said, “… if one of [my children] is sad or angry or worried and I lay down beside them on their bed and I take them into my arms and hold them tight, I can feel all of that pent up anxiety begin to leave their body. You see, even as an imperfect father my presence changes my children.”
Yes. I do see. I want that for myself.
How do I bring God near? Yesterday I read Philippians (yes – the whole book) before starting my day. I realized I need to embrace some kind of morning and evening discipline of quieting my thoughts, and focusing them on the One who can give me peace and whose presence can drive away stressful dreams.
I thought I might use the Book of Common Prayer to anchor myself each morning and evening with pre-written prayers – I have an app on my tablet that makes this easy, but I rarely charge or use mobile devices, so last night my tablet was dead.
Instead, I turned to an old, old book that I have loved for years, but forgotten about often. I read the first prayer for the first evening just before sleeping. Slowly. Thoughtfully.
Give me sound and refreshing sleep:
Give me in my sleep freedom from restless dreams:
Give me control of my thoughts, if I should lie awake:
Give me wisdom to remember that the night was made for sleeping, and not for the harbouring of anxious or fretful or shameful thoughts.
Give me grace, if as I lie abed I think at all, to think upon Thee.
Then, each time I found myself awake and my thoughts veering off, I remembered it was my intention to ‘think upon Thee’, and I yanked them back to green places – warm, safe and tranquil places.
I don’t know if this practice of bringing God near by seeking Him with morning and evening prayers is going to make a long term difference in my quest to return to peaceful, fear-free nights, but it can’t hurt and it gives me hope.
Spurgeon, in the preface of his book Morning & Evening, says:
When the noise and turmoil of the day are over, it is sweet to commune with God: the cool and calm of eventide agree most delightfully with prayer and praise. The hours of declining sun are so many quiet alleys in the garden of time wherein man may find his maker waiting to commune with him, even as of old the Lord God walked with Adam in Paradise in the cool of the day.
I like this poetic description of quiet moments spent with God just before sleep.
To leap from day to day like a mad hunter scouring the fields, is an omen of being delivered over to destruction; but the solemn pause, the deliberate consideration, – these are means of grace… (same book)
Do you sense this as well? The chaos of automatic living? Does one day lead to another until weeks slip by, giving you the feeling that you’re not living at all… you’re being run over by life?
Enter: the Solemn Pause.
I need deliberate consideration. Reflection.
You do too.
In 2023, let’s bookend our days with prayer, spending a few moments each morning and evening with the One who made us and sustains us.
His nearness will bring us peace.